Following on from my post about the tools of the trade that will help you make a decent cup of coffee at home, here are the seven steps I recommend you take to ensure you never drink bad coffee again. You deserve better.
1. Don’t give the high street chains your hard-earned cash. Seek out an independent coffee shop with a properly trained barista, freshly roasted beans, that are ground to order. You’ll get far more bang for your buck. Locally I know I can get a decent latte from The Chalet Bakery in Tadworth, and on a trip to Kingston I always pop in to Local Hero for a flat white.
2. Buy your coffee for home use from a supplier like Pact not from the supermarket. You want the label to tell you when it was roasted, and if you buy it ground you want to know it was ground just before it was shipped to you.
3. Keep your coffee in an air-tight container, not in the fridge. The packets of ground coffee you buy in the supermarket tell you to put it in the fridge. Ignore that. Condensation is the enemy of fresh coffee.
4. Grind your own beans. When I did my barista course in Sydney the trainer chucked any ground coffee that had been sitting in the grinder for longer than a few minutes. Each cup should be freshly ground to order. However, I know not everyone has the time, or the inclination to do this. I don’t really have the time, but I enjoy doing it – the smell is intoxicating. On work days I grind mine the night before so it takes me less time to get my caffeine hit into my cup – not ideal but still miles better than the ground stuff I was buying from the supermarket.
5. You need a fine grind for espresso. Cheap burr grinders won’t give you the fine grind you need for a decent espresso. I read somewhere that you should spend the same on a grinder as you do on a coffee machine. I couldn’t afford to do that so I did a little more research and found out about the Hario grinder that I talked about in my last post. It’s perfect for grinding the small amounts I need to make one or two cups of coffee. There’s something so satisfying about turning the handle to freshly grind my own coffee, and about constantly striving to perfect the grind to get the perfect crema – which leads me to…
6. The golden, frothy ‘crema‘ on the top of a shot of espresso – as pictured at the top of this post – is the holy grain of the coffee world. It tells you all you need to know about whether the planets have aligned to give you a great coffee. It should be thick and golden and when you pour in the milk it mingles with the frothy milk to give that marbled effect that is used to create latte art.
7. Last, but not least, the milk. I like my coffee milky – in latte or flat white form. Use a stainless steel jug with a pointy spout (I’ve got two Andrew James jugs in different sizes). Don’t over-heat the milk whatever you do – 60 to 70 degrees is the ideal (I use a CND thermometer that I bought from a local specialist kitchen ware store). Before you pour give the jug a swirl on a flat surface to smooth out the bubbles before pouring into your cup. As I pour I like to use a teaspoon to push or hold back the froth, to get the amount I like.
Coffee is a daily ritual for me and I don’t mind going to this trouble on a daily basis because good coffee pleases me way more than it probably should. In Oz I made a trip to my local cafe every morning to get coffee – now I can make coffee just as good at home and to me that’s ridiculously satisfying.
When I first moved back to England I think my friends got a bit tired of me whinging about how bad the coffee is. Now I’m slowly converting them as one by one as they sample my coffee and realise what I’ve been banging on about. One of them immediately ordered the same coffee machine and signed up for a delivery of coffee from Pact. Result! That made me smile.
There’s a coffee revolution happening in the UK. The ‘third wave’ or ‘speciality’ coffee movement is seeing more and more people rejecting the nasty tasting freeze dried, instant stuff and the ‘coffee-based drinks’ served by the café chain giants like Starbucks, and seeking their caffeine fix at independent, speciality coffee shops.
Be part of it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – life is far too short for bad coffee. Ditch the Starbucks/Costa/Nero habit, give your business to an independent café instead, and/or get yourself some decent beans or ground coffee, a great machine, or even just a cafetière, and find out just how great coffee can be.
Get your first bag of Pact Coffee for just £1. Sign up at www.pactcoffee.com now and use the code: EMMA-0RIPLW